The Case for Change is the Review’s early thinking about what needs to change in the children’s social care system. There is a lot in this for Residential Forum (England) members to consider some of the headlines on a first scan are:
- There are not enough homes in the right places with the right support
- Residential children’s homes provide a home for some of the most vulnerable children in care.
- Across both fostering and residential care it is impossible to ignore the increasing role of private provision.
- “Good children’s homes do exist in England…. homes which children have told us they experience as loving and supportive and the best place for them to be; homes that engage and involve children’s families; homes that provide therapeutic care, access to a good education and experience of the wider world…. Unfortunately, too many children do not get this experience…. children being placed far away from home, friends and family; struggles accessing healthcare, education or fun activities; and homes which feel overly institutional, sterile or even filthy” (Children’s Commissioner, 2020d).
- The use of unregulated accommodation for children under the age of 18 should come to an end.
- Children in residential care currently do not have an equivalent legal entitlement to Staying Put and can be forced out of their children’s home far too early. DfE continues to pilot Staying Close, as an alternative for children in residential care. It is welcome that the Government has committed £6m to roll this out further but for many this will remain out of reach. It is important that children are not forced to leave their children’s homes before they are 18 into semi-independent accommodation if this is not right for them.
- We continue to hear that there are not enough of the right homes for children with the most complex needs.
- There is a broader question about whether children’s homes are the right long term option for children in care and the extent to which they should play a role in our long term vision for care. The Review would welcome views, particularly from children and care experienced adults, on this question.